Tuesday, July 31, 2007

speaking of sex & death

[Twittervision is] a hypnotic glimpse into the lives of people around the world. [It's] a complete waste of time -- in the same way that conversation, casual sex, and reading are wastes of time.

Nat Torkington of O'Reilly quoted in Is Twitter Here to Stay? in the MIT Technology Review back in April.

So there's the sex part.

Re death: How soon before our online profiles allow us to identify our next-of-kin -- so that in the event of death someone has the option to logon and let the world know that we won't be posting anymore?

spells & subterfuge

The trouble with seeing a whole bunch of movies all at once is that you start to see similarities between them where none may actually exist.

Take the summer blockbuster Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the quietly controlled German film The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen).

Bear with me.

The Lives of Others picked up a fresh head of steam when it landed an Academy Award, and is currently making another tour of the art houses in the U.S.; Harry Potter, of course, is playing everywhere, all the time.

In each film the protagonists’ beloved home (Hogsworth, the GDR) has taken on a grey pall under the controlling machinations of the acting administrator – Imelda Staunton's polished rose-colored Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter, and the massively, powerfully grunting presence of Thomas Thieme as Minister Bruno Hempf in The Lives of Others.

Our hero in each (Daniel Radcliffe as Harry; Sebastian Koch as Georg Dreyman), chiseled of jaw and sporting the black rimmed glasses that serve as the universal signifier for “smarter than the average bear”, pursues secret means by which to act against an oppressive state – Harry by holing up and teaching wizardry to his classmates in a hidden chamber; Dreyman by using a contraband red-inked Olivetti that he hides under a doorsill so that he cannot be connected to an essay, critical of the GDR, published pseudonymously in Der Spiegel.

The lovely ingénue in each of the films (Katie Leung as Cho Chang; Martina Gedeck as Christa-Maria Sieland) after captivating the glandular attention of our hero, is pressed into an impossible situation which leads to her to betray those most dear to hear.

But the comparison that struck me, and led me down this ridiculous path of mapping characters and events across two impossibly different films, was the intervention at the end – the intercession of the actor compassionate to the cause, who endangers his own life to save the lives of those he loves.

Not so remarkable in Harry Potter, where it’s expected – grizzled old wizards, after all, are expected to pull out their wands and toss lightening bands around to assist those under their tutelage.

It was in The Lives of Others that the quiet act of defiance by the Stasi Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler (played to perfection by Ulrich Mühe, who regrettably passed away just recently from cancer at 54) made such a lasting impression.

Slowly he comes to love the playwright and the actress whom he secretly monitors, while sequestered away in their attic, tapped into the wires that run through each wall of their home – loves the way they love each other, loves the conviction and purpose with which they pursue their art – almost as much as he despises the motives of the truculent Hempf who wants them monitored for his own selfish advantage – until finally Wiesler finds himself acting in defiance of the State that he has invested his professional life to defend through surveillance and subterfuge.

A stretch, maybe, to compare these two together – but it’s the theme at the core common to each that captivated me – the willingness to adopt hidden means by which to overcome an oppressive State that imposes limits on the human spirit and our inalienable rights. To see two popular films – admittedly made or staged elsewhere, but blessed with box office here in the U.S. which is how we confer acceptance – gave me hope that folks are working up the courage to speak out against the phone tapping and the surveillance and the loss of personal freedoms that have come in the wake of the Bush Administration’s handling of 9/11.

After all, we don’t talk about it much – not to the extent that others elsewhere may be talking about the change that has come over us, and when we do bring it up it’s in left leaning channels where conversations like these are expected but largely ignored by those who don’t consider themselves left-leaning. But Harry Potter is mainstream, and The Lives of Others became so when it won an Academy Award and received wider distribution.

My naïve hope? That the larger America is finally fed up, and that something’s stirring.

At last.

Monday, July 30, 2007

wife carrying, dwarf tossing and repugnant markets

The nice thing about dwarf tossing, not that it's a giant social problem anywhere, is that no one thinks it's associated with disease, and if you thought it was associated with injury—of which there is no evidence—you could pass laws requiring the use of a helmet.

From a Q&A with Alvin E. Roth on Repugnant Markets and How They Get That Way, in today's Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge.

More on repugnant markets:

Repugnant is different from, say, disgusting. There are no laws against eating cockroaches in California, because nobody wants to eat cockroaches. The law of supply and demand takes care of that. But the reason there's a law against eating horse meat in California is because some people would like to eat horse meat, and others think that they're doing something repugnant.

But seriously: The Q&A contains flashes of insight re the biases that lead to the criminalization of prostitution and gay marriage -- and there's a PDF with the whole study, too.

a weird and very unpleasant dream

Goodnight, Mr. Bergman. And thank you.

Here's the London Times obit, in which it is revealed that Sondheim's A Little Night Music was inspired by Smiles of a Summer Night (maybe it wasn't such a secret, but it was news to me).

Video excerpt from Wild Strawberries »

(Just realized that today's theme is sex & death. Didn't plan it that way. Might have something to do with watching Nosferatu before I went to bed last night.)


the museum of...

a found poem

Albert Ellis
the Lenny Bruce
of psychotherapy
had a different use
for the phallus

Action, not analysis

Or, action!
he might say
adding his favored
and maybe italics

lest the emphasis
remain undetected

Freud's methods
were simply too

Found in Sex, Love and the Scolding Psychotherapist in Sunday's New York Times. Mr. Ellis passed away last week.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

chipompompom...atatataaa.ole..asa! [1]

Had the great good fortune of hanging out with Anali of Anali's First Amendment this afternoon, who was in Chicago for the Blogher conference.

We wandered from lunch at Fox & Obel over to Millennium Park, where we were treated to a free open air rehearsal at the Gehry Bandshell by some kind of wonderful Flamenco group -- dancer included. Neither one of us could place them -- although the gentleman's voice was hauntingly familiar -- and I found myself wishing, sitting there with someone I had only just met for the first time in person but felt like I'd known forever, that someone else I feel I've known forever (but have never met) -- the flamenco dancer, chi pom pom pom blogger Lolabola -- were there, because she'd know right away who was performing.

Strange world, this blogiverse: where you can meet a person for the first time in the flesh and skip past all the early getting-to-know-you questions. I've had the same experience meeting up with Flickr pals who have passed through or live here in town. This blogging thing is a little like pen pals for grownups.

Now that I'm home with Google at hand I can report that it was Gerardo Núñez on guitar with bailaora Carmen Cortez (who only gave up the tiniest nibble) on the stage, along with a whole retinue of performers -- all of whom were amazing. It was a little bit magical, stumbling across them that way, all of them slobbed out in jeans and t-shirts (in a good way), just making music. Random YouTube video of Mr. Núñez follows. Wish you coulda been there, Lola. So great to meet see you, Anali.

[1] defined here »

Saturday, July 28, 2007

change & grow

A girlfriend of mine tells the story of Annie Dillard coming to teach a course at her university. How she desperately wanted to gain admission to her class. How, failing that, she landed a gig as Annie Dillard's nanny for the summer.

Even better: She'd have the master at hand, could learn from her, share coffee and wisdom at the kitchen table, snatch up the crumbs as they fell.

And then: arriving she found Dillard and her husband in the early stages of their divorce, and Dillard was soon gone from the house.

The job didn't pan out as she hoped, and given her story I've always thought of Dillard as somone remote and far away. Untouchable. Inaccessible.

That changed this morning when I heard Dillard give an interview on NPR. She sounded grizzled, curmudgeonly, wise. Not icy at all, but warm like a dame waking up over a cup of coffee, darkly humorous and as old as the hills.

This was that kitchen table. At last. (You can listen to it here -- skip to the end for the good stuff »)

skeletal remains

Originally uploaded by spinozza.

Maybe for us they're great eyesores, because Americans can't deal with things that are unresolved. But Asian cultures understand the world isn't perfect...everything isn't always finished.

Paul Katz, a principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects in New York, commenting on the proliferation of high-rise buildings abandoned during development that dot Bangkok, in High-Rise Relics: Ghost Structures Haunt Bangkok in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. (Crossing my fingers that you can get at it through this link without a subscription.)

Wanted to post a video of WSJ correspondent Patrick Barta looking damp in the heat and eating mangos from his tuk tuk as he tours the structures -- but the WSJ, which SHARES THE CODE to embed video, serves up a message when you try to actually embed it that reads "the video you are trying to watch cannot be viewed from this website."

Looks like the white boys in their suits haven't quite learned the true meaning of sharing.

Near the end of the video there's a fleeting shot of the graffiti that you know these buildings must be overrun with. Was hoping to find more evidence on Flickr -- there's some, but not enough to make a meal.

Friday, July 27, 2007

crazy for feeling

terra cotta
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Pulling my lids back after a late night at the shelter, where once again I hung out with my buddy C.

My darlin' companion and I work our shift together and he tells me that C's only around when I'm around, so I feel a special responsibility not to be an asshat when he goes bat shit crazy on me.

Which he does with frightening regularity.

It always starts out well: he reminds me of my friend S, who's deep into alt music and esoteric jazz and whose mixed tape UFOs are Real remains my one of my favorite road tapes of all time.

Reminds me at first. But soon, all bets are off.

I'm getting better at steering the conversation: when I see it go south I introduce a snippet from whatever I'm reading, ask him what he thinks about it; or ask him what he's reading, and what he thinks about that.

I can't ask him what he's been up to: that's asking for trouble. Because then I hear about the legions who are conspiring against him, punishing him for something he did a long time ago that dare not be named.

Last night we swapped notes on Albuquerque, where I'll be headed soon and where he lived for awhile, and where I learned about his time in jail, about how his family and the police of his home town arranged to unravel things for him there, even from that far distance.

There's nothing he can do, he tells me, because they told him: "You shall have no peace and no rest for as long as you shall live." He can't work (they sabotage the machinery), he can't escape to another place (they follow him), he can't even sleep through the night (they plant people all around him -- noisy, snoring people who talk in their sleep).

And so he does nothing.

When we first met and had these talks I tried to be all Dr. Phil and talk him through it. Learned really quickly that I am not Dr. Phil, and the American Pharmacological society doesn't have it all wrong.

Meds. Now. Please.

The thing that breaks my heart when he starts his spiraling descent is his conviction that everyone spends their time thinking about him -- about how to undo him, how to upend his efforts, how to force him into poverty and misery and homelessness. Everyone. All the time.

The thing that breaks my heart is knowing that -- as a homeless man in our America -- the truth is that no one thinks of him much at all.

she don't lie

We tried to contact Yves Saint Laurent to warn them that Opium perfume could be next, but they were too busy enjoying the freedom of expression guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Redux partner Jamey Kirby, commenting on the court rulings that have banned his company's energy drink "Cocaine" -- which contains three times the caffeine of Red Bull (or four shots of espresso) -- from the states of Texas, Connecticut and Illinois -- because it's named after an illegal substance. As cited in the 2007 Summer issue of the Wilson Quarterly.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Some days it's nice to be reminded.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

if nominated...

For my dear friend ms. anniemcq, as she mulls over all things electoral and presidential, I give you -- from my perch squarely astride my fence these some -- holy crap, what is it? 16 months? -- before we elect our next president? -- I give you an electoral diversion:

With my fingers squarely crossed that 16 months is time enough to get it right this time. I hope.

Video from Salon.com:
Scott Bateman on Hillary vs. Rudy vs. Mike.

speaking of visual music

Painting is a music you can see; and music is a painting you can hear.

Jazzman and visual artist Miles Davis, as quoted by a fellow who used to play with him, on the Chicago radio show 848 this morning.

mashing up the master

So last night I’m watching the documentary Brahkage, and hearing what the experimental filmmaker had to say about viewership – about shooting in 8mm and not 16 because it allows for better access to the work – allows folks to view it at home, live with it like they would a work of art, a painting on their wall.

And I’m wondering: What would Brahkage have thought of YouTube, and the access that it provides, if he’d lived long enough to see it?

A quick query provided the answer: He’d have to suffer through mashups of his work with random audio tracks like this one.

Not sure the master of visual rhythm – who called soundtracks “deadends” and left his films audio-free intentionally -- would be too keen on that.

But I’d love to hear him sound off about it. Just one more time.

(not) broadway

Hannibal, MO

the intersection of desire, part 2

Movie Posters + Fishing.

Toss in a trout and a road trip and I'm in.

More where this one came from at Bounty Fishing blog (which no, I do not frequent, even given my curious predilections -- Neatorama turned me on to it).

p.s. While you're there, be sure not miss the pics of men with their fish »
(I'll let you draw your own conclusions about what's really going on in this demonstration of, er, perch display.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

best error message ever

Apologies, it seems something is horribly wrong with our code.

I love an error message that's willing to take the heat.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
It's been my personal Mount Everest.

Jonathan Schaefer, a "self-described awful checkers player", who developed Chinook, a six year long project that works on a network of up to 200 computers and analyzes 64 million positions on the board every second. Reported in today's Baltimore Sun.

Designed with help from some of the world's best checkers players, Chinook will "never lose at checkers; the best any opponent, human or computer, could hope to achieve is a draw."

Gee. Sounds like fun -- playing a game you could never hope to win.

Play Chinook »

been there, done that.

People often behave as if they possess multiple selves with different, competing interests.


The want-self is myopic and desires instant gratification.

If left to its own devices, the want-self would always act on immediate, visceral desires (e.g., spending instead of saving money, eating junk food instead of health food).

The should-self, on the other hand, prefers to behave in a way that will maximize long-run benefits.

If left to its own devices, the should-self would always act on behalf of an individual's long-term best interests (e.g., saving money or donating it to a good cause instead of spending frivolously, eating health food instead of junk food).

Understanding the 'Want' vs. 'Should' Decision in the 16 July issue of Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

the giocometti code

Twitter, for all its inanity, redeemed itself the day I stumbled across Sameer Vasta and then segued to his blog Squandrous. Pure snippety goodness.

This is just the latest tasty morsel: Rives' The Giocometti Code performed at TED »

Want more Rive? (You know you do, you sapiosexual, you.)

Here you go: If I ran the Internet »

creative expedience

Q. Why did you decide on a small-town setting instead of the big city?

A. Big cities are harder to draw.

Simpson's creator Matt Groening-rhymes-with-raining answers Deborah Solomon's questions in today's New York Times Magazine -- and he's just as delightful as you might want him to be.

p.s. create your own simpson's avatar »

kraus haus

Frank Lloyd Wright's Russell Kraus House

17 July 2007

Dear Grama,
Had a lovely weekend and I thought of you all the while – I so wish you could have been there. Even more: I wish you and Bompa could have both been with us. We made the drive down to St. Louis, Missouri – which is about four and a half hours from Chicago – to see the home of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Kraus.

The Krauses commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design their home in the 1950s, and he delivered blueprints for a lovely little house, perfectly appointed, designed down to the light fixtures and furnishings. All for $3,500. (Quite a bit back then, I suppose.)

The dominant wood that runs through the home is Redwater Tide Cypress (very hard to get after the second World War, apparently), the prevailing motif is the parallelogram (Wright was fond, as you know, of incorporating a theme into his homes – even the bed in the Master Bedroom of the Kraus home is in the shape of a parallelogram) and the home is set in a grove of lovely, slim persimmon trees.

persimmon grove

The touch that I think Bompa would have especially enjoyed was the way the cabinet doors – all of them – were hinged with piano hinges that ran all the way from the top to the bottom of the doors. A good thing, too, because as it turns out the radiant heat, installed under the floors in the home, would have warped the heavy-duty plywood cabinet doors if they hadn’t been fully supported in the way that the piano hinges made possible.

Kraus Haus

The home is owned by the county who received it as a gift from the private organization that purchased it from Mr. Kraus about half a dozen years ago. (Mrs. Kraus died some time ago, but Mr. Kraus is still alive and well.) The non-profit looks after the house now and opens it only for privately arranged appointments – they were kind enough to accommodate us when we called.

Wish you could have been there. I’ve enclosed some picture postcards – I hope you enjoy them.

I love you, Grama. Thinking of you and holding you close in my heart.

Your granddaughter.

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
120 North Ballas Road
Kirkwood, Missouri 63122
To schedule a tour call 314-822-8359

good medicine

Ever want to cross the continent to somewhere new -- except for the fact that it's Sunday and you're feeling lazy and can't muster the wherewithal to hike to the grocery, let alone O'Hare?

Jean-François Juteau's photostream on Flickr was the answer for me this particular Sunday afternoon »

So good. With time left over to take a nap.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

wanting in a president

Nixon Goes to Convention
by Jack E. Kightlinger, 1972 (NARA)
Originally uploaded by pingnews.com.

a found poem

What the average
person wants
in his President

Johnson was thought
a man of many faults

Harry Truman had courage
a devil-may-care-attitude

Kennedy was an utter disaster
his "charm"
saved the day

Eisenhower was thought
a warm
fair man

This is mythology
he was distant
and all business

Found in an eleven page memo (PDF) from President Richard Nixon to his Chief of Staff H.R. Hadelman in 1970 regarding the dismal state of his public image. As mentioned in Slate last Monday.

There's much to cringe over in the memo -- this little snippet is just a taste:

There are in numerable examples of warm items -- the way we have gone far beyond any previous President in this century in breaking our backs to be nicey-nice to the Cabinet, staff, the Congress, etc., around Christmastime in terms of activities that show personal concern, not only for them, but for their families.

For example, the Church Service, every other person who comes through that line practically gets tears in his eyes when he thanks us for allowing them to bring their children to church. I have yet to see any columnist write this, and I of course doubt that anybody will because none of us really have the capacity to get it across, (due to the fact that we are slightly embarrassed to say such things).

Friday, July 20, 2007

the intersection of desire

Albuquerque, NM Motel sign
Originally uploaded by army.arch.
Classic neon signage and the call of the open road: Be still my heart »

je ne regrette rien

Met a friend for dinner tonight, two hours after he learned that the judge signed the divorce papers his wife surprised him with a few months back. Wine flowed freely, of course, and the subject turned to love (of course), time, relationships, the wondering how to make any of it work.

Most surprising was the optimism that shone through the conversation (given the chief subject matter), and the mutual agreement, as we polished off the tiramisu, that what matters in life is the loving – even when it fails to find its mark; even when the one you’re loving doesn’t get it; even when you wind up cold and alone despite having given it all the love you’ve got.

Of course, one hopes for the inverse, but if that doesn't materialize you've still got something – because time spent loving anything or anyone sure as hell beats that same period of time spent not loving at all.

Cue music, roll credits.

But wait – there’s more.

R’s a movie freak too, so sensing that maybe he didn’t want to return to the home that his ex- still occupies, and knowing that I wouldn’t be in such close proximity to an art house for a few weeks at least, I figured I could entice him with a late show.

Turns out I could.

Curiously the place was abandoned when we strolled in – front door wide open, ticket booth shut down, not an employee in sight. All the late shows had already started. So we did what any normal movie freaks would do: we sneaked in to the first available screening room.

It was the tail end of La Vie En Rose (La Môme) -- just as our sweet little sparrow is preparing to perform Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, just before she settles down on the ocean shore with her knitting and grants an interview with the French speaking American who wants to know: “What advice would you give to other women?” and Ms. Piaf replies, as if on cue, Love.

The refrain continues: “What advice do you have for young women?” Love.

“What advice do you have for girls?” Love.

Cue music. Roll...


Heading back to the car we pass an old Creole fellow who has set up shop and is telling fortunes on Wells Street. Of course I nudge R to get his fortune told. And of course our new friend rubs his palm with cheap cologne, mutters a white magic incantation and proceeds to tell him 1) a few remarkable things that make R start and go "whoa", and lean to me whispering: "how did he know that?" -- and then 2) outlines a beautifully optimistic, highly successful future in which love is given and received. (Along with a funky remedy for his restless sleep that involved rosewater, spinning around three times, and reciting the Psalm 23.)

Don't you just love it when the whole night unfolds like it was scripted for the movies?

(And yeah: of course I had mine read too, with mixed results. Who knew my color was purple?)

Thursday, July 19, 2007


One who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature.

Today's Urban Dictionary Word of the Day

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Cahokia mound

Cahokia was one of the target destinations for our trip down south this last weekend – it may be the largest North American UNESCO World Heritage site you’ve never heard of.

Once the largest pre-conquest settlement north of Mexico City, covering 2,200 acres today and sheltering anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people, the remains of Cahokia are today surrounded by Collinsville, a sleepy little town just east of St. Louis, whose scraggly little highway bisects the site.

Main attractions? Mounds. And plazas. And a well-intentioned interpretive center that went to town on their wide entry doors, devising a impenetrable bas-relief tableau in some kind of heavy metal that’s difficult to move, intended I’m sure, to rival Rodin’s Gates of Hell (doesn’t, but you’ve gotta appreciate the intent), and must be hell on the wheelchair bound (I had trouble moving them, and didn’t see an easy open switch, although there must have been one in the vicinity. There was a ramp out the back way – let’s hope that’s not the only accessible entrance.)


And let’s not forget the Woodhenge: “You know: like Stonehenge” said the sweet matron who oriented us to the site. Circular, yes; oriented to sun’s path through the sky, yes; massive and monumental like Stonehenge? Well, no. Lovely slim posts where the stones might otherwise be. But sweet. And close to home. 10 points.

And evidence of human sacrifice in some of the excavated mounds: that’s worth about 25 points. (Here’s a tip for you when you go: the round mounds? Contain bodies and stuff. The squared off mounds? Platforms mostly, for strutting and alpha-dog purposes.)

Monk's Mound

Monk’s Mound is the star attraction and it’s immense – a thigh aching climb, it exceeds El Castillo of Chichen Itza in Mexico at 100 feet high. But unlike the Mayan pyramids, which are built of stone and plastered over, this is a dirt mound, which requires a big broad base and makes the whole thing seem squatter than the pyramids down south.

Until you start climbing, of course. Ouch.

Cahokia pallisade (reconstruction)

Also of interest: the wooden palisade that once skirted the perimeter of the site, and has been reconstructed in bits and pieces to demonstrate its girth and construction. While we were there some folks were excavating what they believed was one of the far corners, just turning the bend. The students were friendly and informative and pulled back plastic tarps to show us the soil stains (those dark impressions left behind by what once was) where the palisade once stood.

All good. Although my evaluation may be biased by my fondness for things pyramidal and plaza-like. There’s a sense of space and proportionality at Cahokia that is not unlike Maya site configurations and seems to suggest a kinship with the Central American sites. All in all a fine place for a picnic.

And all those mounds – an artificial mountain each, built up by the careful attentions of so many hands – made me feel a little less lonely, as a transplanted Rocky Mountain girl, to know that I’m not only one on these wide open flatlands who aches for the embrace that only altitude can give.

Cahokia Mound

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

block ice & propane

a found poem

what is an
american sound?

national parks
small towns
diners and parades

back of the camper

Found in the New York Time's piece on Erik Friedlander re his upcoming release (avant-garde cello, if you must know) Block Ice & Propane, all about road trips through America that he took with his family as a kid.

Video: Erik Friedlander talks a little bit about his new release and plays his Yakima »

Monday, July 16, 2007

St. Louis in St. Louis

Wainwright detail
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Stopped by (too briefly) to pay respect to Louis Sullivan's lovely Wainwright Building while in St. Louis over the weekend.

And because I lost all language somewhere around 5PM Eastern today after rising too early (3.30AM) to catch an early flight out (and back, later today), I'll leave you with a few brief shots and two words about Louis's early skyscraper that make it all good: Terra Cotta »

And if you're hungry for more on Louis go 'head and click here »


I don’t like the noseless variants, :) and :( . I think they look like frogs.

Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Scott Fahlman commenting on his invention of the original emoticons -- :-) and :-( -- in the 10 July issue of NetworkWorld. The nosed variants will hit their 25th anniversary on September 19th.

Fahlman also comments in the interview on Penn Jillette's and Neal Stephenson's reactions to the emoticon.

The original post, in which Fahlman introduced the smiley, was (according to a posting at research.microsoft.com) "retrieved by Jeff Baird from an October 1982 backup tape of the spice vax (cmu-750x)" and read:

19-Sep-82 11:44    Scott E  Fahlman      :-)
From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>

I propose that the following character sequence for
joke markers:


Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more
economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given
current trends. For this, use


Sunday, July 15, 2007

gateway to the west

thin slicing

Come to find out there's a reason the St. Louis Arch is so famous -- and here all along I just figured it had a good publicist.

No: it's more than that. It's freakin' cool. Proto-Gehryesque, soaring stainless and pitch perfect into the sky.

going up

Many thanks to B1-67er who suggested (in true b1- style -- which is to say, more firm direction than suggestion) that I NOT miss it while I was town.

And so I didn't.

Pics provided for your amusement in two flavors: slide show or thumbnails.

depth depends on your p.o.v.

truly madly


St. Charles, MO

Saturday, July 14, 2007

so long, and thanks for all the fish

Hannibal has had a hard time of it since I can recollect. First, it had me for a citizen, but I was too young then to really hurt the place.

— Mark Twain

The box of rocks for sale ($6) at the Farmer's Market was the first hint, earlier this morning, of the quality of attractions that Hannibal, Missouri -- Mark Twain's boyhood hometown -- had to offer.

They were limestone, porous, and billed as "holey" by the Mennonites who were shilling them with a smile.

The sweet little shuttered up moviehouse was the next; followed in rapid succession by chained door after boarded window after "for lease" sign.

Hannibal bills itself as "America's Hometown" which is remarkably perspicacious in light of America's dying small towns: there's no industry here, unless you count the General Mills plant down the road, and the lumber that used to steam down this waterway is long gone. The mighty Mississippi of Twain's day has entered peri-menopause and the main street is lined with ice cream parlors, candle shops, and tintype "old west" photo outfits -- all hallmarks of a town that survives on the kindness of strangers.

Hannibal is done. Dilapidation reins. Even Twain didn't return here more much after he got out and got *on* with it, and the unsinkable Molly Brown -- also a Hannibal early resident -- made her best move the day she moved out.

We planned to stay two nights, but some time around 5 on our first day, after exhausting the interpretive center, conversations with half a dozen colorful locals, a very cool cave, all available museums and a handful of house tours we decided to pack it up early and hit the road for home.

It wasn't all a wash -- saw some great things, had a wonderful weekend -- but there was something very, very sad about that little town on the river.

Posting by cameraphone.

p.s. Photo is of a young Mark Twain -- Sam Clemens -- shot while he was a printer's apprentice in Hannibal. Look closely and you can see that he holds a block of type in his hand that spells out "SAM". Swiped by cameraphone in the Mark Twain Museum, Hannibal, MO.

Friday, July 13, 2007

stage entrance

stage entrance
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Last night I stopped to snap a shot near the stage entrance of the Orpheum Theatre in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. A guy stepped out, waited until I was done and asked, "are you performing?" with a big broad smile, gesturing me through the open door.

At first I was flattered, shaking my head shyly "no" -- then it occurred to me it could have been *any* kind of show.

Posting by cameraphone from the road.

the thin edge of the Arch

the thin edge of the Arch
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Posting by cameraphone from St. Louis, Missoura

on the Internet no one knows you're a digitally illiterate CEO

I like Mackey's haircut. I think he looks cute!

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posting pseudonymously as "Rahobed" on a Yahoo! stock market forum, commenting on his own haircut, as reported in this morning's Wall St Journal.

Mackey posted over several years as Rahobed, lauding his company's performance and knocking his competitor, Wild Oats.

In the WSJ piece Mackey also stated:
I posted on Yahoo! under a pseudonym because I had fun doing it. Many people post on bulletin boards using pseudonyms. I never intended any of those postings to be identified with me.

Then, Mr. Mackey, you need to develop a finer understanding of what it means to post -- anything -- online.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

the flat earth society

the flat earth society
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Oh sweet lord this land is flat.

But every once in a while it busts out something beautiful.

Somewhere near Bloomington, IL
Posting by cameraphone enroute to St Louis, MO

origins of the octothorp

# | Originally uploaded by mag3737.
The odd name for this ancient sign for numbering derives from thorpe, the Old Norse word for a village or farm that is often seen in British placenames. The symbol was originally used in mapmaking, representing a village surrounded by eight fields, so it was named the octothorp.

Courtesy of Neatorama, via Boing Boing.

Knowing it's called an Octothorp, in addition to just plain old "pound sign", has gotta be worth about ten points right off the bat.

do that to me one more time

This was how close Prince was: you could see the glitter on his sideburns.

From Star Turns, Close Enough to Touch in this morning's New York Times.

Prince is playing five small shows in the U.S., where $312.10 buys you standing room only, or $3,121 per couple nets you a couple of chairs and dinner. Tickets are being sold mostly "by invitation only".

I picked up a ticket to see Prince in a similar small venue in Vegas last April, while they were still available to the rabble, due to the sound advice and good company of b1-66er.

Prices for standing room only were a little bit less then (although not considerably), and while I'm not usually into paying through the nose for an hour or so worth of entertainment, this coin was worth every bleeding dime.

He was right there. With Maceo playing alongside him. There's a reason they call these guys sexy m*therf***ers.

the mighty mo road show begins

There are certain things you ask a man before you marry him. Questions like: "Have you done this before?" and "are you on any anti-psychotic meds?"

And then there are the ones that slip through the cracks, like: "What do you mean you don't eat arugula?" or "you've never imagined living anywhere outside the Midwest?"

But there are others that, once the baseline of "born and raised in America" is established, are just assumed to be true.

Like Mark Twain.

Every American who reads has read Mark Twain.

Or so I presumed.

I wasn't cheeky enough to assume that every American has inhaled Mark Twain the way I did when my dad brought home volumes one and two of Twain Unabridged when I was in Junior High School.

But Tom Sawyer? Huck Finn? Given.

No. Not true. My darlin' companion -- who consumes books daily, outnumbering my weekly intake by at least three-to-one -- has never read Mark Twain. Any of it.

Which explains why his eyes didn't spark like firecrackers when I suggested -- many moons ago -- a road trip to Hannibal, Missouri, boyhood home of Mr. Twain, née Samuel Clemens. And then suggested it again. And again.

No sparks. Not a one.

Finally, I insisted.

This weekend we right that wrong: the car is packed. The Twain on tapes are at the ready. And Hannibal awaits.

With interim stops along the way.

Posting from the road.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

more meaningless harry potter trivia

Amazon's selling all seven Harry Potter books as a boxed set, and seeing them all lined up made me wonder if it was possible to spot a clear growth trend -- in spine widths.

Meaningless, I know. And I haven't even read the books.

(The movies don't count, do they?)

KTW, who has read -- and also owns -- the first six books, was kind enough to provide the measurements.

The trend isn't as obvious as I had hoped.

One "get out of blog-meme free card" will be conferred upon the brilliant talent who can project (or take a wild swinging guess at) the actual spine width of the soon to be released Book No. 7.

Update: It does appear that the diagram creates a snake-like pattern -- a silent homage by Rowling to Potter's Parseltongue powers? hmm.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Originally uploaded by tmunki.
I want to be a non-conformist. Just like everybody else.

Graffiti artist Banksy

Digging me some Banksy on Flickr »

Update: Another great Banksy just showed on Flickr. Parts 1 & 2

dust to dust

dust to dust
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
I don't think I've ever met an archaeologist who wasn't happy.

Solid happy like out in the sun messing with the dirt, happy; happy like a gardener who's just hoed a row; happy like a kid playing hard in mud puddles, important work kind of playing with the sun on your back and dust in your mouth and dirt under your nails to let you know you're alive, kind of happy.

(I want that kind of happy.)

Spent the evening with two happy folk who dig around Oaxaca and work for Chicago's Field Museum hearing about their recent discoveries at El Palmillo. Excavated residences, mostly, and funerary urns; strange distributions of ancestral burials and legends of the powerful presence of mountains.

Good stuff.

Buffet rocked four stars out of five – there was a white fish in a chile sauce and a tasty mole-topped tostadas (Oaxacan-style) that especially stood out. Whole thing might have hit five stars if we hadn't arrived late to find the quesadillas congealed.

Posting by cameraphone on the way home from Chicago's Field Museum. T.Rex is from one of those funky little mold-your-plastic-while-you-wait machines. (If you close your eyes you can just. smell it.)

come and get it

pie's all gone

heartbreak smells like dinner
behind the oven door

rising warm and ready
hunger high

forgetting other empty plates
full once, and fragrant

Monday, July 09, 2007

plus ça change

Hundreds of years ago it was elves and fairies taking you to a cave and poking you with wands or having weird sex in the woods. [Today] we call them aliens.

Guy Malone, organizer of last weekend's Roswell (NM) UFO Festival.

Just missed it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

the swim

homeward bound
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
a found poem

if this river
were a book
it would be dense
difficult to read

some rivers
have a brilliant clarity
clear about themselves
where they are going
where they are
taking you

have a thickness
and opacity
as if
there were
too much type
on the page
and packed
with intricate

intimacy with the river
like other kinds of intimacy
is laced with ambiguity

with questions
of ownership
elusive and variable

it becomes
an easy thing
to imagine
a particle
in the river's

you begin
to see things
the way
the river
might see them

that all
the missteps
and wrong directions
can be corrected

that it is never
too late

What I recall most
about the September swim
three years ago
was how
in the strength
of the river
was oddly reassuring

Found in Akiko Busch's piece Just beneath the surface in today's New York Times Sunday Magazine

Saturday, July 07, 2007

all that and a bag of chips

There are absolutely no dangerous confusions.

Danish chef Claus Meyer, speaking of Chanterelle mushrooms.

Is there anything sexier than a man who cooks? Anyone who handles potatoes with that kind of care and attention...

Crushing madly on Claus Meyer who just now (through the miracle of television) made the most extraordinary salad dressing -- the recipe for which is nowhere to be found on the site supporting his show, New Scandinavian Cooking, so I'm going to have to pluck this one from memory. It went something like:

• 1 bit of honeycomb (plucked right from the hive of endangered brown bees, of course)
• dijon mustard, about 2 tsp
• shallots, 2 raw
• a splash of apple cider vinegar in which he had marinated something for 14 days (exactly what escapes me)
• little bit of grape seed oil

Blend it all up and then toss it with:

• 1 head of baby romaine
• a sprinkling of flowers (the edible kind)
• a handful of sliced shallots which you've roasted whole and pushed from their papery skins
• a sprinkling of fried new potatoes (just like kettle chips) procured from a little island off Finland and flash fired before my eyes

I'm off to find me a honeycomb and a bag of chips. At my local grocery, unfortunately.

My life is full of such compromises.
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